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RISK ASSESSMENT & APPROVAL: China delays GM corn and rice to woo the public



                                  PART 1


------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   CHINA DELAYS GMO CORN, RICE TO WOO THE PUBLIC

SOURCE:  Thomson Reuters, USA

AUTHOR:  Niu Shuping & David Stanway

URL:     http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/07/china-gmo-idUKL4N0BY2BC20130307

DATE:    07.03.2013

SUMMARY: "China has delayed the introduction of genetically-modified rice and corn as it tries to head off public fears, leading government scientists said on Thursday. The world?s largest rice producer and consumer gave safety approvals to Bt rice and phytase corn in 2009, but has not yet begun commercial production, even though it has already spent billions of yuan on research. ?There are some debates ... We have not given the public enough knowledge about GMO crops,? Peng Yufa, a member of the GM crop biosafety committee under the Ministry of Agriculture, told reporters. [...] The public remains ?very concerned? about the safety of GM crops, top agricultural official Chen Xiwen said on Thursday, but he added that it was inevitable that China would import GM crops in the future to meet the supply gap."

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CHINA DELAYS GMO CORN, RICE TO WOO THE PUBLIC

(Reuters) - China has delayed the introduction of genetically-modified rice and corn as it tries to head off public fears, leading government scientists said on Thursday.

The world?s largest rice producer and consumer gave safety approvals to Bt rice and phytase corn in 2009, but has not yet begun commercial production, even though it has already spent billions of yuan on research.

?There are some debates ... We have not given the public enough knowledge about GMO crops,? Peng Yufa, a member of the GM crop biosafety committee under the Ministry of Agriculture, told reporters.

?The crops have to be accepted by consumers who are willing to buy and by farmers who are willing to grow,? Peng said, adding that the process may take five years.

The public remains ?very concerned? about the safety of GM crops, top agricultural official Chen Xiwen said on Thursday, but he added that it was inevitable that China would import GM crops in the future to meet the supply gap.

The large-scale introduction of GMO crops has been seen as a crucial part of China?s efforts to feed a fifth of the world?s population using less than a tenth of the world?s arable land.

But although senior officials have acknowledged the challenges of maintaining food security as the country urbanises, it remains unclear if the new government, to be elected during this session of parliament, will push for the large-scale production of GMO crops.

China is already the world?s biggest buyer of GMO soybeans and also the largest grower of GMO cotton.

?We have slowed down, especially since 2009, and that is not normal. It might be fine for Europe to slow down but China can?t,? Huang Dafang, a researcher with the Biotechnology Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, told Reuters last week.

?We are hoping to provide our findings (about the efficacy of GM crops) to the new leaders after the NPC.?

Beijing-based Origin Agritech Ltd, which has exclusive rights to sell phytase corn, earlier has expected commercial production in 2013.

In 2012, developing countries, particularly Brazil, accounted for the first time last year for more than half the global biotech crop area, though the United States remains the top consumer of genetically altered crops.



                                  PART 2

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS GAINING GROUND IN CHINA: REPORT

SOURCE:  The Times of India, India

AUTHOR:  Press Trust of India, India

URL:     http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/home/environment/developmental-issues/Genetically-modified-crops-gaining-ground-in-China-Report/articleshow/18847379.cms

DATE:    07.03.2013

SUMMARY: "Clive James, chairman of the NGO, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications ( ISAAA), said China should ease restrictions on bio-technology and promote the use of GM food crops, China?s Caixin Media reported. In 2009, China certified GM rice and maize strains that were developed by its own scientists, but still has not permitted the crops to be grown commercially, James said. [...] China spent billions of US dollars on imported maize, and developing its own technology would reduce its dependence on food crops and fiber materials from other countries, James said."

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GENETICALLY MODIFIED CROPS GAINING GROUND IN CHINA: REPORT

In annual report by an international NGO that promotes the use of agricultural biotechnology said China has the sixth largest area planting GM crops.

BEIJING: China has developed four million hectares genetically modified (GM) crops, becoming one of the world leaders in biotech farming, a report on the status of commercialised GM crops said.

An annual report by an international NGO that promotes the use of agricultural biotechnology said China has the sixth largest area planting GM crops.

The other leaders in the field are US, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and India, state-run Global Times quoted the report as saying.

Clive James, chairman of the NGO, International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications ( ISAAA), said China should ease restrictions on bio-technology and promote the use of GM food crops, China?s Caixin Media reported.

In 2009, China certified GM rice and maize strains that were developed by its own scientists, but still has not permitted the crops to be grown commercially, James said.

The main biotech crop in China is cotton, followed by papayas, tomatoes and sweet peppers.

China spent billions of US dollars on imported maize, and developing its own technology would reduce its dependence on food crops and fiber materials from other countries, James said.

GM food remains a controversial topic in China. Many people are wary of consuming GM foods but also understand the need to expand crop yields.

He Bingsheng, president of China Agriculture University said China should take a cautious approach to the use of GM crops, which he believes is inevitable. ?Research into all forms of biotechnology should be expanded,? said He.

Fang Zhouzi, an expert in chemical biology, however, said that he doesn?t believe GM foods are a risk to human health, pointing out that the US and Canada have applied the technology for nearly 20 years without any apparent health affects.

Zhouzi said GM crops even benefit the environment by reducing the use of pesticide. ?The soybean oil sold in China is mostly made from GM soybeans imported from overseas. Why are we letting other countries make money from us, instead of doing it ourselves?,? he said.



                                  PART 3

------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:   CHINA TO KEEP GENETICALLY-MODIFIED SOYBEAN IMPORTS

SOURCE:  China Daily, China

AUTHOR:  Xinhua, China

URL:     http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013npc/2013-03/07/content_16288347.htm

DATE:    07.03.2013

SUMMARY: "?It is inevitable for China to import some GM farm produce for quite a long period of time,? said Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the office of the leading group on rural work under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. China imported 58.38 million tons of GM soybeans last year, mostly from the United States, Brazil and Argentina [...] Chen said imported soybeans are mainly used to extract cooking oil, which does not contain transgenic material. But after the oil extraction the soybeans are used as animal feed which does contain transgenic material."

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CHINA TO KEEP GENETICALLY-MODIFIED SOYBEAN IMPORTS

BEIJING - China will continue to import genetically-modified soybeans in order to cater to domestic demand, a senior agricultural official said Thursday.

?It is inevitable for China to import some GM farm produce for quite a long period of time,? said Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the office of the leading group on rural work under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. China imported 58.38 million tons of GM soybeans last year, mostly from the United States, Brazil and Argentina, because the country produces about 14 million tons of soybeans while the demand exceeds 70 million tons annually.

Soybeans account for most of China?s imported GM food, Chen said in response to a question about the future of GM food in China, at a press conference held on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session.

He said the GM crops China plants on a large scale are mostly cotton instead of food.

Responding to growing concerns among the Chinese public over the safety of GM food, Chen said the reality is that no sufficient evidence so far can prove whether or not GM food is harmful to humans.

?The safety of new crops is proved always in the process of continuous application,? he said.

Chen said imported soybeans are mainly used to extract cooking oil, which does not contain transgenic material. But after the oil extraction the soybeans are used as animal feed which does contain transgenic material.